A Theology of Discipline in Student Ministry [part 3]

It is important in any student ministry, that a theology and policy of discipline be established.  Whether it is said or unsaid, it needs to be evident.  This is part 3 of this series of posts.  In part 1 I outlined a few guiding principles:

1. Expect Good Behavior, 2. Have some well stated guidelines, & 3. Annoying or Inappropriate?

In part 2, I laid out what the scriptures say (in part) on discipline and our responsibility to show appropriate discipline in our gatherings.

Today I want to talk about how to deal with students who are being disruptive during a program.

4. Make Appropriate Consequences Known

One way of curbing bad behavior in students is letting them know what the consequences are for behavior ahead of time.  We usually did this through small group leaders and after an initial infraction happened.  On trips, consequences are weaved into the contract that a student and parents initially sign.  This way students are not surprised by consequences that may seem extreme to them.

5. Minimize Warnings

Nothing says “I don’t really mean any of this” like warning over and over again without any action.  Trust me, I am a parent of preschoolers.  The more I yell, “Hey, knock that off…” but never have any action to back it up, students (and my own kids) learn that I don’t mean it and that I am not serious.  That is why we try to train our leaders to minimize warnings with their students.  Warn 1 time and then take action.

6. Enforce Rules Without Anger

It’s important that our students know we love them but we also mean business.  If we have warned the student once, and behavior continues, we need to calmly, and lovingly, take action against the behavior.  Sometimes this means a swift removal from the program to correct in private.  Sometimes this means a phone call to a parent to inform them of the infraction.  The important thing in all of this is that the student understands the “why” behind the “what” and that we are doing these things because we love them and want the best not only for them but for the whole group.

tomorrow I’ll get into all the details of how a correction actually looks.

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